Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Who will protect us from gun violence?

Who will protect us all from the gun violence that is so pervasive in our communities? How will we keep senseless gun accidents, suicides and homicides from happening in such large numbers? Who will save our children from "accidental" shootings and stray bullets in our neighborhoods? Why aren't we answering these questions? There are logical and reasonable solutions to the gun violence epidemic in our country but we are not dealing with them. We could if our elected leaders took the lead and actually led instead of following the old outdated idea that guns can't be mentioned in campaigns or in policy decisions. Such timidity is unacceptable. We all need to demand a change to the way things are. For if we don't, we will be complicit in letting our politicians off the hook. That is what many of them want. Leave them alone. Don't bring up gun policy in an election year. Don't bring it up in an off year. Don't bring it up. Baloney.

What we decide as priorities in our country matters a lot to how we live our everyday lives. If we decide that protecting children, women, young men of color and others from gun violence is more important than fabricating alarm about voter fraud that doesn't exist, then we will actually have a chance of saving lives. If we decide that keeping people from being shot is more important than making sure everyone has a gun and everyone can carry a loaded gun in public with few restrictions, then we can protect the children.

The baloney is that our priorities are very screwed up. I believe our leaders know this but they don't want the gun bullies coming after them because, after all, no one wants to be blamed for taking away any one's guns or gun rights. Except passing reasonable gun laws would do no such thing. There should be no baloney when it comes to saving lives. For who will protect the children? Who will protect the women? Who will protect the young people losing their lives every day in our communities? Who will protect the young men of color, making up a large number of the victims of gun violence? I am not the only one to ask. This Arizona writer wants to know who will protect the children of Arizona? From the article:
The young parents were lying on their bed, talking about Christmas plans, as their 3-year-old boy bounced around them, rambunctious as usual.
Then, BOOM!
They turned to see what had happened and saw their son bleeding from the head. The father’s Glock pistol apparently had fallen from his waistband, where he had tucked it in the small of his back. The boy had picked it up and shot himself dead.
It was Dec. 20 in a modest home in Sahuarita. (...) 
The next month, state Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson, introduced a bill related to accidental shootings by children, attempting to make it a crime to store a loaded gun unsecured in a place where the owner could reasonably expect children to be. Similar laws exist in 28 states.
It never got a hearing.
This legislative session, state lawmakers are deep in the weeds of expanding gun rights, seeming to have a hard time finding ways gun rights are restricted in Arizona.
They are trying to speed up the process for citizens to get permits for specialized high-caliber weapons, such as machine guns. They are coming up with a scheme to fine city council members who try to pass and impose gun laws that are stricter than state laws. They are even trying to create a separate felony for stealing a gun from another person, which is already a felony.
But a little effort to protect kids from unsecured, loaded guns? Impossible even to discuss.
“Their priorities are all messed up,” Steele told me. “I swear we’re going to have personhood for guns or voting rights for guns soon.”
"Personhood" for guns. What an interesting idea. Doesn't it seem as if that is the way the gun lobby would like this to go? Untouchable- Guns and gun rights. Don't mess with them or else. Or else what?

This is what:

A Missouri man who shot a 4 year old girl "by accident won't be charged for the death:
The deputies' reports, the first public records released in the shooting, indicate Zoie and her mother, Alyssa Dougan, were visiting friends at the house and were outside when a man who lived there decided to shoot at items in a burn pile in order to prepare a rifle for squirrel hunting. He aimed at a bottle about 70 feet away, keeping one eye closed while he focused, according to the reports.
The women told investigators that Zoie and another girl were running toward a swing set in the yard about the same time. The area in the yard where Zoie was shot was between the shed and the swing set.
The man said he fired one shot, then heard one of the women yell, "What was that?" He turned around and saw both women running to the area where he had just fired, the reports say. He then saw Zoie lying on the ground.
"(The man) said he never saw Zoie enter his sight picture as he looked through the scope," the report says. (...) He also told officers he knew shooting at that location "wasn't good judgment. I understand that."
The mother of the child asked that the man not be charged. They were apparently friends. But at what point do we hold gun owners responsible for irresponsibility? Why take out your gun while friends are around and start shooting a rifle at things in the back yard? Why then? Why at all when there are people close by? And particularly when their are children playing close by? Is this a good place to target shoot? This is not the first time I have written about people target shooting in their back yards in places where people live close enough to be shot by stray bullets. For bullets have long trajectories and don't know where to stop. Too often they stop when a human being is in the line of the trajectory.

Yes, it's difficult to charge gun owners like this with a crime. The Missouri man didn't mean to shoot anyone. But he admitted to bad judgement. Was he careless and endangering the life of another? Just as it's difficult to charge parents who leave loaded guns around like the Arizona couple did last December. These folks are already suffering from guilt and grief. It's difficult to charge them with anything. But if we don't, when will this stop? When will people who own guns lawfully get the idea that they can't be careless with them? Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill another human being. Being cavalier about gun ownership is a bad idea. Stupid and dangerous things happen with guns. Owning and carrying them presents risks that the gun lobby doesn't want you to know about. What is the penalty for bad judgement when shooting a lethal weapon? Nothing? Actually, it's a family living with the grief of losing a precious 4 year old girl who they thought was going to grow up, maybe go to college, maybe become a leader or a scientist or a teacher and maybe have a family of her own. The shooter is also now living with the grief of having taken the life of another human being. That can't be undone. His life will never be the same.

But will we ever learn if we don't have penalties for being careless with lethal weapons? What the gun lobby wants you to think is that: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." The corporate gun lobby does not want you to think about all of these other tragedies that occur every day in our country. Why not? These do not fit with their slogans and their hue and cry of fear and paranoia that it's all those bad guys who are the culprits. Yes, we know there are bad guys with guns out there. Why aren't we trying to stop them from getting guns in the first place? Where are lawmakers when it comes to life saving measures? They are running away. They don't understand that talking common sense will actually be a winning issue in elections. They have been fooled into thinking they can't talk sense about gun policy and gun safety. And so they back away from anything that could save lives and their own responsibility to keep us safe in our homes and communities from senseless and avoidable gun deaths.

Gun laws matter. If we make it clear that we will not abide careless behavior with guns and parents understand that they could be held responsible for the death of a child with an unsecured gun, just maybe they will be much more careful with those guns in their homes. 28 states and DC have passed Child Access Prevention Laws.

"Accidental shootings" with unsecured guns in homes are avoidable tragedies. The 4 year old girl deserved to live a long life barring illness or other sorts of accidents. We can't always protect our children from everything. But we sure as heck need to try. It's the not trying that is getting to me. It's the not trying that worries me. It's the not trying that should shame our elected leaders into action. But instead, just as with Arizona law, the gun lobby is passing laws to make it easier for children and adults to be shot. Seriously, this is what's going on in the Missouri legislature:

Voting to nullify "gun control laws":
A Missouri bill which seeks to nullify virtually every federal gun control measure on the books, “whether past, present or future,” passed the Senate Thursday. SB613 would ban the state from enforcing virtually all federal gun control measures, and includes criminal charges for federal agents attempting to violate the right to keep and bear arms in Missouri.
The measure passed 23-10.
SB613 counts as what could be the strongest defense against federal encroachments on the right to keep an bear arms ever considered at the state level.
The blogger who wrote this article thinks this is a great idea, by the way. It's a great idea to be lawless, isn't it? It's a great idea to let those with guns do whatever they please with them. It's such a great idea to just let felons, domestic abusers, those who are dangerously mentally ill and fugitives get their hands on guns, isn't it? It's a great idea to let people carry their guns wherever they want with no background check, isn't it? Isn't this the kind of country we want?

I thought so. You don't really think it is do you? For if this were the norm, surely we would turn into a country where chaos reigns and anything goes. That is the world sought by the extreme gun advocates. That is the crazy world they seem to want. Their guns will rule in a country like this. Where is common sense? Who will protect the children?

And here's the truth. Gun laws matter. In Missouri, for example, when the state repealed their law requiring gun owners to get a permit to purchase their guns, with the accompanying background check, gun murders rose:
The study, from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, found the murder rate in Missouri jumped 16 percent—an additional 55 to 63 murders a year—after the repeal in 2007 of a state law that required anyone purchasing a handgun to obtain a permit showing they had passed a background check. (Though federal law mandates background checks by licensed dealers, private dealers don’t have to perform them in all but 14 states.) "This study provides compelling confirmation that weaknesses in firearm laws lead to deaths from gun violence," said Daniel Webster, the study’s lead author, in a statement.
What we need now are more studies like this to make sure we can deal with the facts and not hyperbole and innuendo. From the article:
So why hasn’t the new finding gotten much attention? “I don’t mean to diminish the value of the study, but I don’t think it could have made a difference last year, and I don’t think it will now,” said Tom Diaz, a former policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center. He called the finding “very clear,” but added: “The debate is just unhinged from the facts.”
As the study notes, 89 percent of Americans, and 84 percent of gun owners, supported universal background checks in 2013, before this study bolstered the argument for them. But that’s just one more reason for Congress to pick up the issue again—that, and a new analysis last week which found there have been 44 school shootings since the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
We are better than this as a country. We must change the conversation about gun safety, gun policy and the causes and effects of gun violence in our country. We shouldn't be void of facts and concrete information when dealing with gun policy. The debate should not be "unhinged from the facts." If we don't deal with reality and the facts we will expect to see the daily carnage that Joe Nocera writes about in his Gun Report. We can expect to see law abiding gun owners shooting others in avoidable accidents written about in the Ohh Shoot blog. We can expect to see children shooting themselves and others in avoidable and tragic incidents written about in the Kid Shootings blog.

Raise your hand if you think the gun culture we have is the gun culture we want and deserve. Things can change but we have to make them change. Join me in raising your voice for change and common sense. The 2014 election season is coming up. Ask your candidates what they plan to do about gun safety measures. Hold them accountable and don't let them tell you they can't do anything or the gun extremists will come after them. For who is going to protect the children if not them? And it's ALL of us. Gun owners, faith leaders, community leaders, parents, educators, physicians and other health care providers, youth, the minority community, victims and survivors- all of us. Nothing will change if we all don't work together. Are you with me?


An Indiana couple have been charged for the negligent shooting death of their toddler. From the article"
The parents of a 3-year-old boy who fatally shot himself in December were arrested Friday on charges of neglect of a dependent. The father faces an additional felony charge of neglect of a dependent causing death.
Warrants were issued Thursday for Nicholas Gulling, 27, and Sandra Tomich, 35 according to a release from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Both Gulling and Tomich were being held Friday in the Marion County Jail, Gulling on $20,000 bond and Tomich on $1,000 bond.
Initially after the Dec. 7 incident in the 1800 block of 68th Street, where the boy pulled a loaded gun from a kitchen counter and shot himself in the head, investigators were preliminarily classifying it as an accident.

And so, some states have decided to enact their laws and charge parents for their irresponsible behavior with unsecured guns in the home. This is a double tragedy. The first is that a child is dead. The second is that the parents, grieving their loss, are now going to be held responsible for the death. One can only hope that other parents will look at this incident and do something different with their own guns.

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